Illinois Unemployment Eligibility

Illinois’s unemployment compensation law sets the requirements that must be met to obtain unemployment compensation in the state. There are two types of eligibility. Non-monetary eligibility deals with various aspects of your work and employment whereas monetary eligibility contains a set of requirements which involve your earnings in the year before filing for unemployment. The state has put these requirements into action to ensure the benefits are not misused.

Non Monetary Eligibility

  • You must have lost job through no fault of your own.
  • Be available for work.
  • Be actively seeking work.
  • You must quit your job for good cause.
  • Your must not be fired for misconduct.
  • Earned sufficient wages in insured employment / covered employment.

Monetary Eligibility

To be monetarily eligible for unemployment benefits,

  • You must have earned at least $1,600 during the base period.
  • You must have earned at least $440 outside of the highest paid base period quarter.
  • If you do not qualify under the standard base period, Illinois Department of Unemployment Security (IDES) will use the most recent four completed quarters for an alternate base period.

If you have been awarded temporary total disability benefits under a workers’ compensation act or other similar acts, or if you only have worked within the last few months, your base period may be determined differently. Contact your local IDES office for more information.

Once you qualify for the unemployment benefits, your documents will be processed in about a week after which you will receive the benefit amount to your account or unemployment debit card, based on the choice made while filing the initial claim. Please make sure you apply for unemployment benefits without any delay as one week waiting period is inevitable and worse, you will not receive any pay during that week.

This does not end here. Make sure you file your weekly claims as without weekly certification you will not receive any benefit amount. Click here to know what needs to be done every week after you qualify for unemployment benefits.

Eligibility Questions

If I’m fired, will I be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Generally, in Illinois you have to lose your job through no fault of your own in order to obtain unemployment benefits.
In most cases, this means that if you get fired, you cannot receive jobless benefits.
In case you got fired from your job, you must proceed and apply for jobless benefits. There are instances where you can be fired from your job and still obtain benefits. If you were fired unjustly or if there were any justifying situations, be sure to mention about the same to your unemployment counselor. If your unemployment application is rejected, you also have the right to appeal the decision.

I was laid off from my previous job. Am I eligible to receive unemployment compensation?

In Illinois you have to lose your job through no fault of your own in order to collect unemployment. When you get laid-off, it is not your fault.
In almost all cases, this means that if you get laid-off, you are eligible and should apply immediately for unemployment benefits.
Getting laid-off doesn’t mean that you were fired or you did something wrong. It means that the company that you worked for did not have enough work for you to do, and could no longer pay for your job.

Can I Get Unemployment If I Quit My Job?

You might be able to receive unemployment if you quit a job in Illinois, but it depends on documentation and circumstances. Illinois considers the reason why you are out of work and the basic law is that it must be for a cause that is not your fault. If you leave willingly, it’s not easy to qualify.
The state recognizes a few special cases, such as

  • Domestic violence
  • Leaving job to join a military spouse assigned to a new location.
  • Quitting job for “good cause”. Unsafe working conditions, significant change in hiring agreement, not receiving payment for your work, medical reasons such as quitting on your doctor’s advice, quitting to care for a terminally ill spouse if there is no alternative care provider can be possible good cause.
  • State keeps out claimants who leave a job for personal reasons.


Check the Q&A Section and Benefit questions if your question is not listed here.


Want to know your weekly benefit rate? Use our free and easy to use calculator to know your benefit payment.
Know more about unemployment eligibility.

88 thoughts on “Illinois Unemployment Eligibility”

  1. Linda Becker says:

    I worked for the same Illinois company for 19 years until June 2018. I moved to Texas 1/1/2018, but maintained my employment. I paid no Illinois tax in 2018 because Texas does not have a state tax. I was let go as part of a large reorganization in the company. Am I still eligible for Illinois unemployment? I’m so collecting SS because I am 66 years old.

    1. Sam says:


      If you’re looking forward to employment and will look for jobs, please consider applying for UI benefits from the state where your employment was based.

  2. michael bolam says:

    I haveonly worked December 2017 until July 2018 do I qualify for benefits

    1. Sam says:


      To be eligible, the claimant is required to have active employment and earnings in the last 4-5 calendar quarters. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  3. Crystal says:

    My company is expecting us to do non-optional OT indefinitely until the office closes in three years. Will I qualify for IL unemployment benefits if I am not able to work ten hour days, five days a week and a full day Saturday indefinitely and am terminated because of this?

    1. Sam says:


      It may be considered voluntary on your part. Before you make a decision, please consult the Unemployment Office by calling them.

  4. James says:

    Would unemployment benefits be available to someone that takes a “Voluntary Severance” (such as what State Farm is asking a number of employees to do)?

    1. Sam says:


      If its voluntary, the person in question may not qualify. Please contact the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  5. Chris Cervantes says:

    I have worked at the Rock Island Arsenal for a contractor for 30 years. Every 5 years a new contractor can win the bid on the contract and take over. If the new contractor decreases my pay $11,500, can I qualify for UI, if I do not accept their offer.

    1. Sam says:

      Contract workers are generally not eligible. If you resign voluntarily, you will not qualify.

      Please contact the Unemployment Office to find out.

  6. Angela says:

    I was working at a job from Aug 2016 – March 17 and was let go. I qualified for unemployment. This Monday I stated a new job. The employer screams and swears a lot. (Some at me, some not.) If I quit because I am uncomfortable, can I reclaim my unemployment?

    1. Sam says:

      You should be able to, provided you’re able to produce sufficient proof in case of a dispute by your current employer.

      Please speak to the Claims Center for further information.

  7. Jack says:

    I received a notice from IDES that I was totally ineligible for claims that they had paid me totaling about $8000 over 10 years. I work construction and get laid off every so often. They are dating back to 2007. How can this be and what should I do? I have 30 days.

    1. Sam says:

      Firstly, read the content in the letter and call the phone line for further discussion.

      If you would like to dispute the same, ask for the procedure.

  8. Sandy says:

    Hired by engineering firm to work on one of their specific projects for length of project only. Project was from May until November. When project is completed can I collect UI?

    1. Martin says:

      Since the project would have been on a contract basis, you may not be able to claim since employers’ do not pay the relevant taxes.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for further information.

  9. Alyssa says:

    I was a contractor at the end client X through a staffing company from Dec 12 to June 12, 2016. I was let go for no reason after I hemmed my boss’s pants and did not comply with her request of finding the ivory carving item buyers for her brother in law. Am I qualified to file unemployment? Is it too late to file unemployment?

    1. Martin says:

      Firstly, Contracted employees are generally not eligible since employers’ do not pay UI taxes into the system. Please find out if your employer did and apply accordingly.

      You can use the Benefits Calculator to estimate eligibility and benefits. Please use the link below.

  10. fred woods says:

    In a case of termination, is the rule : file for unemployment in the State
    you live in even if you worked in another State ? Thank you

    1. Martin says:

      You should ideally be applying from the state where your employment was based since the employer would have remitted unemployment taxes in this state.

      Please contact your employer to get further information.

  11. Lynn says:

    I work at a school, so I am off, unpaid, for 3 months during the summer. Can I file for those 3 months?

    1. Martin says:

      Seasonal jobs do not qualify due to obvious nature of work.

      Please inquire further with the Unemployment Office in your state.

  12. Megab says:

    Worked for same company for 20+ years. 5yrs ago was facing layoff or relocation so moved to missori to keep a job. After nearly 5 years working in Missouri the job was able to move back home to Illinois to work from home. Have been working from home in IL now since November. All work has been for same company just different locations. Am I eligible for Il? And how do I find out

    1. Martin says:

      Not sure if you’ve separated from the current job.

      You will be eligible for UI benefits if you lose the job due to involuntary reasons.

  13. Adam says:

    I started working for this company for 3 months. After I was taken off my probationary period they wanted to reduce my pay by $10,400 bc they found out I was making more than my supervisor. I left my previous job bc this company offered me more money but now I’d be making less money than before I quit.Now I need to find a job that can cover my expenses. Can I file for unemployment until I find a higher paying job?

    1. Martin says:

      Well, if you leave voluntarily due to reduction in pay, you will not qualify.

  14. Gloria says:

    I’m only working 12 hours a week, 4 days out of the week and only 3 hours a day? Can I apply for compensation if I’m not even making close to 20 hours?

    1. Martin says:

      Yes, you can apply for the lost hours.

  15. Elizabeth Kadavi says:

    Hi.I live in Illinois and have worked a seasonal job in Missouri for a national company for 15 years.Missouri recently dropped their unemployment weeks down to 13 weeks,which is really going to mess things up for me and the rest my co-workers.I have been filing in Missouri,but since I am an Illinois resident,I was wondering if I filed for it in Illinois instead of Missouri,would I still only be paid the 13 weeks of unemployment,or would I be paid under the Illinois law of up to 26 weeks? Thank you!!

    1. Martin says:

      You should only file from the state of your employment since all taxes are paid into the system. I am afraid, you cannot file from IL.

  16. Jen says:

    My job is transferring me to Missouri for work. My husband will need to leave his job in Northern IL to move to Missouri with me. Can he collect unemployment benefits?

    1. Martin says:

      You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  17. Rosemary says:

    I was working for a company for about 6 years and fell and broke my nose at home in May of this year. I did get short term disability but the doctor would not release me because of some restrictions and neither would my job. I applied for long term disability and was denied because my dr said I can work 20 hrs a week with no restrictions but it was a corporate leave and my job is no longer there. My termination date is coming up soon and I would like to know if I can file for unemployment. I am actively seeking employment elsewhere but with no luck

    1. Martin says:

      Depends. If you were laid off due to involuntary reasons, you can qualify.

      Please check further with the labor authorities in your state and apply accordingly.

  18. Brenda Bryant says:

    I quit my job to start my own catering business can I still get benefits?

    1. Martin says:

      Personal reasons are not considered. You will not be eligible.

  19. Penny Goins says:

    If I get laid off of my full time job and I also work for a non-profit organization and receive a 1099 from them can I get UI

    1. Martin says:

      Depends. Please check further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  20. Raymond says:

    If I’m laid off from my company and collecting unemployment and then my union goes on strike do I keep my unemployment or do I lose it?

    1. Martin says:

      I don’t think it should have a bearing on you as an individual.

      Please inquire further with the labor dept in your state.

  21. Anne Selinger says:

    I provided my employer with a 2 week notice of resignation. During the notice period I had a scheduled paid personal day off. ( this was scheduled last year). The employer chose to terminate me before the end of the notice period and before the scheduled day off. Am I eligible for benefits for the time period between termination and end of notice period?

    1. Martin says:

      The termination date will be considered as the last day of work.

  22. Magdalena says:

    3 weeks ago before I left for vacation, my clinical director discussed with me the need to change my schedule from 2 days of evening hours and 3 days of regular morning shift to 3 day evening shifts and 2 day morning shifts. she had presented me with a new schedule that’s not negotiable for me to work 4 evenings and one morning shift. I had on many occasions informed I cannot work Wednesdays and Monday evening shift as I need to care for my child afterschool since parenting time is scheduled then by court. The clinical director now tells me she doesn’t care and if I don’t like the schedule I will be let go or I can quit. will I be able to receive benefits if fired? she had asked and considered my coworkers if they hours are fine and is willing to adjust them but not mine. I have been working there for 7 years as a counselor.

    1. Martin says:

      If you’re fired for personal reasons, you may not qualify to receive unemployment insurance.

  23. Veronica says:

    I just received my card and activated it. How long before money starts to go on the card for my unemployment benefits?

    1. Adrian says:

      Please check the content of the letter that you may have received with the card for further instructions.

      You may have to file online or via telephone to trigger the benefits.

  24. Toni says:

    I currently live in South Holland, IL and work in Joliet, IL. I was told I was being transferred to Bolingbrook, Il which is a 38 mile commute from South Holland. If I quit can I file for unemployment

    1. Adrian says:

      Voluntary resignations are not considered.

      UI is only extended to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons such as lay offs.

  25. James says:

    I currently work full-time. I am going back to school and my employer agreed to work out a part-time schedule for me to continue working at the company. Because of my school schedule, I cannot work the hours my employer has in mind, although my employer never stated the requisite number of hours that I would need to work to be kept on, when we initially decided that I would go down to part-time. Now they are letting me go because I can’t work the number of hours they just established were necessary for me to stay on. Am I eligible for unemployment?

    1. Adrian says:

      Some states encourage schooling by providing you benefits.

      Generally,any reduction in the number of hours worked(read part time) should qualify.Please call the customer service of the labor dept in your state before applying to confirm.

  26. pam says:

    Mranddaughter was d nightrom walmart due to she received her third coaching. They claim she put one hundred dollars on a gift for a customer and than gave them back the hundred cash. She does not remember doing this, and if she did it was by accident. Is she able to get unemplyment?

    1. Adrian says:

      If she is able to prove otherwise,she can claim UI.

  27. Carl says:

    My employer just notified me that I will be laid off for 6 months. I have a 4 year college degree and thinking about taking a college course towards a masters degree during that time period. Can I collect unemployment during those 6 months while attending college?

    1. Adrian says:

      If you’re attending full time college,you may not be eligible.

      Please check with the labor dept in your state.

  28. Carey says:

    I work for a University in Chicago on a 10 month contract. The contract has ended but another contract will start in two months. Am I eligible for unemployment compensation?

    1. Adrian says:

      Depends.Please check with the labor dept in your state.

  29. Niecy says:

    I was fired due to attendance. I called off sick a total of 13 times between 3/10/14-6/13/14. Of those 13 sick call offs I have provided my employer with 9 statements from doctors to excuse my absences. Will I qualify for benefits?

    1. Adrian says:

      If you were wrongly laid off, you can be eligible.

  30. Alyce says:

    I was let go from a job after only working for two weeks and two days because they said I was not doing a good job (which is not true). I was given a review on Monday, telling me that I needed to improve and Tuesday I was walked out at the end of my shift. The trainer I worked with that day told me I was doing well, so I’m confused. I left a job I had been at for 6 years to take this position and now I’m out of a job. Am I eligible for unemployment?

    1. Adrian says:

      Depends. If your job was wrongfully terminated,please consider applying.

  31. Brittany says:

    If im being harassed by Boss and being talked down and being called names. I have reported her several times. She also writes me up and never tells me about it I Have to look on her computer and see she has written me up. would I qualify?

    1. Adrian says:

      If you can prove in case of a dispute,you should. Please try taking this matter to a senior boss in your company.

  32. craig says:

    I have been in traveling sales covering a large territory. I recently left a company I had been with for 6-1/2 years and after two months with my new company voluntarily left due to worsening health conditions….I suffer from celiac disease and reached a point where it was becoming very difficult to travel with this condition. Would I qualify for Illinois unemployment benefits?

    1. Adrian says:

      Depends. Generally, any voluntary reasons for leaving job is not considered.

      Please check with the labor dept in your state.

  33. Etoria Harris says:

    I will be moving out of town to Minnesota. I am wondering will I qualify for unemployment? If so, what are the steps I need to take and do I have to give a 2 weeks notice to my current employer to qualify?

    1. Adrian says:

      Any voluntary separation from an active job will not qualify.

  34. Jim Covey Jr. says:

    My mother is 75 years old and receiving $1112 from social security. She was laid off in January of this year when the company she worked for downsized. I calculated her benefit online to be $144 per week for Unemployment Compensation. Can she apply for UE?

    1. Adrian says:

      Please check with the labor dept in your state for any limitation on age.

  35. alissa says:

    i have been at my job for 2 1/2 years .. normal hours are from 9 – 5 but in the summer we stay open until 6pm. the last 2 summers have not had an issue with staying until 6 .. this summer is different i do not have help anymore and have to leave at 5:15 to be able to pick up my daughter by 5:30 .. i am being made to quit .. .. i told them i am not willingly quitting my job … when i leave today to pick up my daughter she is taking it as i quit but never once did i say i was quitting … am i still going to be able to file for unemployment ??

    1. Adrian says:

      Depends.If you were wrongfully terminated,please file for UI.

  36. Clifton Boyd says:

    I live in Illinois and drive a school bus part time for a private company. I found new employment (as a bus driver for a school district) about three weeks before the end of the school year. Can I file for unemployment?

    1. Adrian says:

      Seasonally employed are generally not eligible.

      Please contact the labor dept in your state.

  37. Rafael says:

    I’ employed in Illinois but live in Wisconsin, which state should I apply for unemployment benefits? My position was eliminated.

    1. Adrian says:

      Please consider filing for UI benefits from Wisconsin.

    2. Tony Lucchesi says:

      My old employer was bought out – the new company is offering me a 10 week package than I have to leave. I am 67 I don’t want to stop working but it seems that I will be forced to retire – I want to work ! After the 10 week severance can I get unemployment until I find another Job ? I will be moving to Arizona during that 10 week period what can I do ??? THX T

      1. Adrian says:

        You can consider applying for UI benefits from the state where you were last employed.You should be eligible for UI benefits upon satisfying all other basic criteria.

        Please apply a couple of weeks before the severance runs out.

  38. Merque E. Gibson says:

    I am 67yr,retired and receiving social security but working 20 hours a week part time as a bus driver. I was previously working part time but due to leg problems I could no longer stand for the 8 hours I was required to. However driving the school bus will make me be without a job for the summer months that the kids are out of school. My question is will I be able to draw unemployment for those couple of months that I’m laid off?

  39. melissa says:

    My husband needs to have surgery and will be out of work for 6 weeks. his work does not offer any disability. He will not be paid at all during this time. Is there any way we can receive unemployment or any sort of help?

    1. Adrian says:

      I am afraid not.You may please explore the benefits of Workers compensation if this can be of any help.

  40. gary says:

    I retired in June due to my heath reasons, now I’m better can I draw unemployment

    1. beltway says:

      One of the few primary eligibility criteria to draw UI benefits in any state is that you should be able and available to work.Looks like you fulfill this criteria.Please file for UI benefits. Remember,approval of the claim is dependent on other factors as well.

  41. Scott Yanes says:

    On my current job i was working full time & now i am working part time 20 hours or less per week am i elegable for partial unemployment benefits?

    1. eva says:

      If I wad let go from my job an only working part time with minimum income can I still qualifie for unemployment benefit

  42. melisa says:

    I recently started a new job. Today we were told of possible layoffs. Am I eligible for unemployment?

  43. Laura Hendel says:

    My employer has cut me from 3 days per week to 1 day per week. I have worked for him since 2004. He hired a family member who is now salaried and there is another part time employee who he has not been cut at all. I asked him why he did not give me the extra hours before he hired the salaried family member and he said I did not have the right last name. Do I qualify for any benefits? He (my boss also employs my ex husband and has sided with him in the divorce. I feel this is why he has layed me off.

  44. Michael Ballenger says:

    I have been taken off the work schedule for 3 weeks. Its like a temporary layoff and will be called back around the end of Nov. can I file for benefits during this time that I’m not on the schedule?

  45. sue says:

    I am having my hip replaced. Will be off work for 3 months. Can I collect unemployment for those 3 months?

  46. crystal pratt says:

    What if we are working comission only and they are taking taxes out of our checks. Suppose to be giving an hourly wage if not making commission can we file unemployment during the non commission times of the year? Which would be during the winter.

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